Raw Milk Afuega l’pitu

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Afuega l’pitu is a full fat cow’s milk cheese, with rennet, made in the Asturias since the 8th century.

It has a truncated cone shape and each cheese weighs betwen 200 and 600 grams. It is eaten fresh, as soon as it’s made (in this case it’s called barreña or cuajada) with the addition of honey or sugar, sometimes strawberries. It can also be eaten after 15-20 or more days. After two months and until 16 months its maturation explains the name afuega l’pitu.

This strange name, which in the local language (Bable) means ""choke the chicken, or choke the neck"" is related to the texture of its curd, which sticks a bit to the throat. According to the legend, a bit of cheese was once given to a chicken to see whether it was ready. If the chicken struggled to swallow it, the time was right to eat the cheese.

Local farms once had just a few cows and the cheese was made for self-consumption, so as not to waste any excess milk. In some areas of the Asturias, cheese was aged in horreos (the typical wooden barns, lifted from the ground to keep mice away) until it lost its humidity.
Afuega l’pitu cheese could only be purchased at some markets in rural villages along the road that took to the city.

In 1981 Spanish law banned cheese production with raw milk; the decision caused the virtually complete disappearance of this cheese from the market. It only survived in the city of Pravia, where ""las espichas"" festivals were celebrated. On these occasions, people drank a lot of cider and local cider housed served the drink with savory dishes to make customers even thirstier. Cider was paid and food was free. Among the served food was afuega l’pitu.

In later years its production resumed, but only with pasteurized cheese. The protected designation of origin, obtained in 2002, confirmed this obligation, with the exception of cheese that is aged for exactly 60 days.

In 2010, a small scale producer from Pravia, Pascual Cabaño, resumed the production with raw milk. His grandmother used to manage a ""casa de comida"", a place where she cooked also for people outside the family, and she made afuega l’pitu, which she served as a dessert. Her family would eat it daily.
Given the rules of the DPO regulation, even if he made the cheese according to tradition, he was forced to give it a different name. The name of the cheese has an interesting story. During an event organized by Slow Food in Italy, called Cheese, the producer met Umberto Eco, the famous Italian philosopher and semiologist. He particularly liked his cheese, and told him the story of Rey Silo. In the 8th century, the King of the Asturias, the only region in Spain which was never conquered by the Arabs, gave this cheese as a present to Charlemagne.
After this conversation with Umberto Eco, Cabaño decided to call his cheese Rey Silo and this is the name it has become famous with. Despite its success, the producer is fighting to change the rules on cheesemaking, so that the possibility to use raw milk for cheese that ages less or more than 60 days is granted. In addition to him, many other producers could then call their cheese with the name it deserves and certify their PDO. However, large producers are obstructing the process.

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Principado de Asturias

Production area:Asturie

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Milk and milk products

Nominated by:Pascual Cabaño